Get Feedback to the Frontline: The Seven Habits of Empowered Frontline Teams.
If you’re all caught up on The Seven Habits of Empowered Frontline Team series, you’ll probably have an epic service standard in place, and a frontline team who are highly focussed on turning single practices into daily rituals.
A bit behind?
To refresh — after over six years working with thousands of experience brands around the globe, and conducting deep interviews with the world's best, we’ve discovered a set of common daily habits that each of the big guys use to motivate and empower their frontline teams.
This set of habits, when put together and applied consistently on a daily basis, create a powerful bond of purpose for each frontline employee that is reinforced by feedback, recognition, coaching and empowerment.
You can catch up on habit #1 here, and habit #2 here.
That brings us to habit #3: Get feedback to the frontline.
To cut to the chase, you can not have an empowered frontline team without giving them regular, real-time, customer-driven feedback. Imagine taking up a new sport. Let’s say, gymnastics. You turn up at practice every day, and attempt the flips and turns your coach instructs you to. Except there’s one catch - your coach is mute when it comes to feedback. How are you supposed to get any better? How are you supposed to feel empowered to improve? You can’t.
To make progress, whether that be as a gymnast or a frontline team member, you need to be hearing real-time feedback. What you’re doing well, what you’re not doing well, and practical steps as to how you can improve.
In a service based experience brand, the most valuable feedback comes directly from the customer. As Des Traynor from Intercom says “customer feedback is like business oxygen”. It only works as oxygen, however, if this feedback reaches the frontline. It’s all very well for managers to know what parts of the customer experience was enjoyed and disliked, but if the person responsible for delivering that experience is left in the dark, no impactful changes or improvements will ever be made.
Let’s go back to you being a gymnast for a second, because, who doesn't want to be a pro gymnast... You’ve been working away, getting great feedback from your coach, and now’s the time to compete. Except, there’s another catch. The competition judges don’t give you any scores or feedback. You don’t know what they liked, or didn’t like about your routine. Progress is stumped again.
Customer feedback is like getting detailed results from competition judges - you know what actually matters to the person you’re trying to impress. With this feedback, you and your coach know what to work on next.
If you’re not already getting real-time customer feedback to your frontline team, here’s three key reasons you should set out to change that, asap.
Firstly, getting feedback to the frontline impacts your bottom line. Prioritizing the exchange of feedback in the workplace creates a chain of compounding benefits. Frontline teams who are recognized for the work they do — and are encouraged to give and receive feedback freely in the workplace — tend to be more satisfied, which leads to, according to research by Gallup, a up to 300% performance increase, fewer absences, and longer tenure.
Minneapolis-based food producer and distributor, Cargill, is a living example of this. The company, which had been in business for more than 150 years, was struggling to empower and motivate their 160,000 frontline employees around the globe. When the company made a switch from annual reviews to ongoing conversations and regular feedback, Cargill realised it could impact performance by nearly 40%.
Secondly, regular, or even better, real-time customer feedback means frontline employees are equipped with the knowledge they need to make agile, daily changes to improve their performance and enhance customer experiences. It gives the frontline independence, accountability and motivation to improve. Read more about top employee engagement strategies.
When the idea of Uber first came to light, skeptics questioned how drivers would stay on top of their game. With no direct managers, set hours, and oversight, how would the frontline stay motivated and empowered to do their job well? The answer? Real time customer feedback. That is the oxygen, or fuel that keeps Uber moving. At a glance of the Uber app, drivers can see their current 5-star rating, what passengers most appreciate about travelling with them (cool car, good music, etc.) and what they need to work on based on low scores.
Finally, your customer’s positive feelings towards your business will increase, if they know their feedback is actually being listened to and implemented. This increases trust, loyalty and positive word of mouth. If customers provide feedback, and it fails to be implemented (in other words it doesn’t reach the frontline), customers feel as if they’ve wasted their time providing feedback, and their opinions aren’t valued. Furthermore, your customers are more likely to provide feedback in the future if they know it was listened to and implemented in the past.
So we know just how important getting feedback to the frontline is, but how do we actually go about it? The AskNicely Frontline Coaching Playbook reveals all the Do’s & Don’t when it comes to frontline feedback, as well as guidelines on how to implement the other six daily habits. Download it for free here.